The nights are putting in but I still get my hit of glorious sunshine in the form of Australian Masterchef. To make me feel at home this week the producers brought a little bit of Britain to Sydney.
Once a week George and Greg give an hour long masterclass. They remind us of what was in the mystery box and make some helpful suggestions. Occasionally a guest will appear through the huge MCK (as they call it) doors. This week, as soon as Greg introduced the guest ‘chef’ as an ex-model, I knew Ms Pascale would sashay through the kitchen with a big smile towards her Kitchen Aid.
The contestants look thrilled as always (there MUST be times when they have no idea who the head chef or food critic is but they hide it well) and Beau looked particularly delighted to see her;
B: “my wrist action’s pretty good, eh?”
L: “just with the one hand, I’m sure”.
I didn’t approve of the flirting but thankfully she moved on quickly to make a lovely looking mojito Genoise cake. The next episode gave us an old favourite. Rick Stein’s appeared before and seems to be a particular Aussie favourite with his restaurant Bannisters in New South Wales. He judged a seafood special where teams picked a country and a type of seafood. Poor old Andrew, he was left with Britain and botargo! It wasn’t great.
Last, but certainly not least, the immunity round completed a Great British bake-off. The top three contestants of the Stein challenge were, quite literally, fighting for the chance of immunity. The aim of this game is to compete against a head chef. The judges blind taste and mark the dishes out of ten. If the chef wins, their reputation remains intact, phew! If a contestant wins they’re awarded an immunity pin to be used at a later date.
Even our experienced, world-weary judges seemed excited as the episode began. There was a frisson in the air. Maybe it was the eggs for breakfast. George explained that the chef challenging them today was known to MILLIONS around the world, works to improve the quality of food in schools (cue wide eyes, trembling lips) and has a passion for Italian cusine (screams from the contestants overhead). As Jamie Oliver swept through the doors, Tregan fell to her knees. This must be what’s like being a Beatle.
The task? Oh, who cares? It was awesome to see the adoration and Jamie seemed a little surprised at the reaction. There was a group hug to start things off and an overheard comment that “you better kick my arse, right?!” One of the early front runners, Kylie, gatecrashed proceedings by explaining that she’d stolen a Jamie’s Kitchen napkin and turned down a job in one of his restaurants to appear on MC. I think we all know where she’s working now – only a little higher up the food chain.
The theme was tapas style dishes to be placed on a ‘plank’. Use little bowls, pile meat, cascade salad leaves, drizzle … you know Jamie’s take on things.
Beautiful ingredients used well, some better than others but I won’t spoil the result. Not sure this can be topped – will they get a Roux next year? I think this is where UK Masterchef can learn from it’s Aussie counterparts. A bit of glamour here and there wouldn’t go a miss. When – if – I ever make to the latter stages of MC I’d love to wander into the kitchen one day to find Jamie waiting for me in his whites. I’d certainly get butterflies, be very nervous but would hold it together. There would be no surprise to see Monica or Michel, in fact I’d be disappointed if they didn’t do a turn.
No, the only chefs that would reduce me to a gibbering wreck would be Jose Pizarro and Pierre Koffmann. I’d better get practicing in the hope that my dream may come true.